Cane Toad Poisoning In Dogs

Cane toads can kill dogs. Know the signs and first aid steps to help your dog if poisoning occurs.

It seems like there are always can toads in our yard! Here in Queensland cane toads a seen almost year round, except for maybe two months in the height of winter. They are definitely worse after rain or during the summer months but basically if you walk outside after dark be prepared to dodge the toads. Not only are they in our way (and make me cringe) but cane toads are a potential danger to our pets causing a possible fatal poisoning.

Why are cane toads poisonous?

These rather unattractive amphibians are a common cause of poisoning to dogs and less commonly cats. When toads feel threatened they ooze a milky poison through the glands in the skin. If a dog or cat is to lick, bite or eat a cane toad the poison can make them sick. The poison typically has a hallucinogenic effect on the dog and can potentially kill them.

Symptoms of cane toad poisoning

The symptoms of cane toad poisoning will vary dependent on the amount of poison ingested. It also depend on the size of the animal, with smaller animals needing less poison to be affected. Signs of cane toad poisoning include;

Mild Poisoning
– Excessive salivation, drooling and/or frothing from the mouth
– Bright red & slimy gums
– Rubbing at the mouth
– Vomiting

Severe Poisoning
– Muscle spasms
– Seizures
– Increased or rapid heart rate
– Death

What to do if cane toad poisoning occurs

So what should you do if you notice these symptoms or suspect that your pet has cane toad poisoning? Firstly you should always contact your veterinarian to discuss the symptoms and seek advice. If the animal is just showing mild symptoms or you see them with a cane toad there are a few first aid measures you can undertake to prevent the poisoning from becoming severe.

First aid steps

– Thoroughly rinse the dogs mouth out to remove the poison. To do this hold your dogs mouth tilted down and first wipe the mouth and tongue out with some paper towel. Use a hose or tap on a slow trickle and thoroughly wash out the mouth for at least 10 minutes. Let the water run over the teeth, gums and tongue but keep the animal’s mouth tilted downwards to avoid water running into the lungs.
– Then use a wet cloth and gently wipe out the mouth, teeth, gums and roof of the mouth.  Rinse the cloth between each wipe and continue the process for 5-10 minutes.

If your pet settles and does not seem to be showing any further signs of poisoning confine them, away from toads and watch closely for any developing symptoms. These first aid measures are often enough to prevent the poisoning from becoming severe if administered quickly. If your pet continues to deteriorate or is showing signs of severe poisoning you need to get them to a vet urgently as the situation can quickly become life threatening.

Severe cases of cane toad poisoning will require veterinarian monitoring. Treatment with intravenous fluids, anti-seizure medication and oxygen therapy may be required. Blood tests may be run to determine if there has been any organ damage. A dog with cane toad poisoning will be monitored close until symptoms ease.

How to prevent cane toad poisoning

If talking to your pets and explaining the dangers of playing with cane toads just isn’t sinking in there are a few things you can try. Training your dog to stay away from toads is a good start. This can be done by taking them out at night on a lead and teaching them to avoid and ignore the toads by using reward based training methods. This training will take time to sink in and needs to e repeated regularly (daily at the start) for it to become effective. Training may not work for every dog and you can not stay with them all night, so who knows what they are getting up to. Therefore the best way to prevent cane toad poisoning is to keep your dog locked inside at night. Bringing them in just before dark, when toads become active, is the best preventative measure.

Why does my dog love cane toads?

Some dogs just love toads. Maybe they are very inquisitive and find the hopping fun to watch. Other dogs just like to eat, or try to eat, everything. But there is also another possibility. Years ago I read an article that said some dogs were addicted to the “high” or the effect that the cane toad poison has on them. The poison released by a cane toad has a hallucinogenic effect on a dog and some dogs like the feeling. These dogs may become addicted to the high which causes them to repeatedly seeking out cane toads for a lick. If you have a dog that loves cane toads the best step is lock them up so they can not get to them.

To find out more about Cane Toads and how they can effect your dog tune into the myPET Podcast – Cane Toads; Poisonous, Deadly and Addictive. Dr Glenn and I discuss why cane toads are so dangerous to our pets, particularly dogs. We also discuss the first aid steps to take and when to know that a serious poisoning has occurred and veterinary attention is required urgently.

If you ever have any concerns or questions about your pets health and/or cane toad poisoning please speak to your veterinarian.

Until next time,

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Author: Bec

From a very young age Bec has always had a great love and appreciation for all animals. Bec is a qualified Veterinary Nurse and also has a Bachelor in Applied Science Animal Studies with special interest in Wildlife and Recreational Animals. Her studies have been put to good use working in various animal industries including small and large animal veterinary clinics, horse studs and the family cattle property. Horses have played an important part in her life, living on a horse stud and caring for horses throughout breeding, foaling, spelling, racing and retirement. Bec is the proud mum of two gorgeous girls, a beautiful Cocker Spaniel, a cheeky cockatiel, chickens and many horses including a naughty little pony.

4 Replies to “Cane Toad Poisoning In Dogs

  1. hello there, quick question. my beloved cat Gypsy was outside with my boyfriend and I just 2 nights ago on our back porch as we do regularly every night. my bf was on his way outside and I had stepped inside for just a quick second to grab something, and by a “quick second” I mean I was literally stepped away from just about 30 seconds. well on my way back out, I see Gypsy’s backside slumped over what I came out to discover was a toad laying on its back. I checked out the toad, my cats mouth, and luckily my cat had not yet had the chance to eat any of the toad. Although, I’m almost positive that he had atleast licked it. I quickly proceeded to move the toad away from us and my cat, and realized that the toad was either dying, or hurt, because it was not moving much and I had found it on its back. anyways, I began to worry if the toad was poisonous because my cat had licked the nasty thing! well the next morning, sure enough I found diarrhea all over his litter box and began to worry even more so, from then on throughout the day I refrained from feeding him much, although he did drink alot of water. when I finally did feed him, he threw up so much! and yet, again today! so this is day 2 of him not feeling well and I’m about to take him to a vet. i would just like a some advice before doing so. any thoughts, questions, concerns?? all are very welcomed and appreciated! thank you!

    1. Hi Jade,
      How did you go with Gypsy? Did you take him to the vet? With symptoms like the lethargy, vomiting and drinking a lot I would most certainly get him to the vet asap. It sounds like he may have ingested some toad poison. I really hope the outcome is nothing to serious. Please keep us updated.


    2. Hi everyone who lives in Toad areas QLD and northern NSW that has pets should study information about toads.
      I have just moved to QLD within 5 days I discovered toads, I put the nearest 24 hour vet emergency details in my phone.
      Studied all about toads and what symptoms to look for in your pet.
      purchase toad killer from Bunnings its called hopstop its humane and works in about 20 sec, each female cane toad can produce 30,000 tad pole each breeding season
      Everyday I read on facebook of peoples pets dieing from cane toads

      1. Hi Angela,
        Yep cane toads are pretty common in Qld and they certainly cross paths with our pets very often with the potential to be deadly. Check out a recent podcast I did with Dr Glenn on cane toads for some more useful information and tips on what to look out for and what to do if your pet comes in contact with a toad. You can find all episodes of the myPET Podcast here >>

        Good luck with the toads (or avoiding the toads really)
        🙂 Bec

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